It's three strikes and you're still here for Nikolai Khabibulin, who today has been placed on injured reserve for the third time since Steve Tambellini rolled some very expensive dice on the Russian veteran the summer before last. The most recent affliction is being variously reported as an eye injury or an eye infection, two very different things which we will update as things become clearer. For now details are as fuzzy as Khabibulin's vision.
For now the Oilers have confirmed one part of the chain of events, namely that Martin Gerber has been recalled from OKC for tonight's game.Gerber is a legitimate NHL goalie with some pretty nice career numbers (112-78-7-14, 2.64 GAA, .910 Sv%), who has been delivering the mail with the Barons this season. He had a brief cameo with the Oil during Khabibulin's last visit to IR, playing two outstanding games and winning both, allowing just three goals on 60 shots. In his first Oiler game he even got an assist on Taylor Hall's last-minute game-winner, then went into Ottawa and shut down his former team right in his old barn. From there it was straight back to the minors as Khabibulin returned, without a murmur of complaint either. Martin Gerber is a consummate professional.
Presumably he has been recalled to back up Devan Dubnyk, who should see the lion's share of the action with the next five games scheduled every other day. Still, that's what I thought last time and Gerber found his way into the crease a couple times in his short time here. But all that hinges as well on Khabibulin's recovery.
One other consideration is that the Oil might give Gerber one of the next two games (Sunday being the obvious choice) in case a playoff team is considering adding some goaltending depth at the deadline and wants a look-see. Hey, if there's a market for Dan Ellis, anything's possible.
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UPDATE: The official word is that Khabibulin took some ice chips in his eye in Monday morning practice, played Tuesday night and backed up Wednesday, but has since seen an opthalmologist and told "he should rest for a few days because there was a little bit of bleeding in the eye" in the words of Tom Renney. Doesn't sound that serious, situation seems to be under control, but I suspect Renney shares my own preference for two-eyed goalies.
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